Longtime Sarasota furniture store owner, philanthropist dies at 101 | Business Observer
Ed Kalin, a longtime businessman and philanthropist from Sarasota, has never really opted for a traditional hobby. He played a little golf, fished here and there. He owned a boat for a while.
Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, Kalin started doing real estate transactions. It became his passion, outside of work and family. Kalin’s son, Jeff, said Ed Kalin would join forces to team up with a few other Sarasota business leaders, from lawyers to doctors to Fortune 500 CEOs. This group often struck deals together , from a 90-acres commercial site near the Fruitville and Cattlemen roads which later became a Sam’s Club to the main square in downtown Sarasota.
“They would sit for hours discussing the details,” says Jeff Kalin. “He obviously liked to make money thanks to the agreements, but for him, what he really appreciated was the camaraderie of all people.”
Ed Kalin died on June 9 after a brief illness. He was 101 years old.
“They broke the mold by making it,” says Marc Cohen, the life partner of Kalin’s daughter, Leslie Malkin, who has known Ed Kalin well for the past decade. “They don’t make them like that anymore.”
Ed Kalin was born in Perry, a small town south-east of Tallahassee, and grew up in Hendersonville, in North Carolina, according to her official Bold. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1941.
Kalin then served during the Second World War, an American navy officer stationed in the Philippines. He left the service with the rank of Lieutenant SG, and the honor of serving his country became a great theme in his life: until his death, Kalin, his daughter says, stopped and saluted whenever he saw an American flag.
After the war, Kalin, in 1948, joined forces with Cousins Maurice and Thelma Rothman to found Kane’s furniture in Saint Petersburg. In 1950, after marrying Alyce Weiss, Kalin opened Kane’s Furniture of Sarasota. (This store, focused on high-end merchandise, was a separate business from the Kane chain, the Rothmans expanded to 18 locations statewide.) Ed Kalin’s furniture business occupied three separate storefronts In Sarasota from 1950 to 2016, helping to furnish thousands of houses in the region during a demographic boom that lasted decades.
Jeff Kalin worked for his father at the furniture store, as a buyer and in other roles. It was there that young Kalin saw the demanding and ever-improving side of his father. “It was hard to work for him,” says Jeff Kalin. “But he was just as hard, if not harder, on himself before congratulating himself.”
There was also real estate. At one point, Ed Kalin participated in over 100 properties in and around Sarasota. He made offers from the conference room to the golf course one time by discussing someone with a shot on a property.
Through all his business interests, Kalin, say several people who knew him, was a humble, genuine Southern gentleman, with a genuine curiosity about everyone he met. He was also loyal and generous, as he and Alyce donated to a host of causes, including the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and Ringling College of Art + Design. One of Ed Kalin’s famous dictations was: “It costs nothing to be nice and it reports dividends”.
Cohen and Malkin refer to Kalin has a mensch – Yiddish for a person with great integrity and honor, and one of the highest compliments in Judaism.
Leslie Kalin quotes an aspect of her father’s life which proved it: her relationship with her son, Evan Danzig. Ed Kalin was a paternal figure in the life of his grandson, she says, with a standing appointment for the lunch of the grandfather on Saturday for years. Elder Kalin taught his grandson to drive, ride a bike and more. “They just had a great relationship,” she says.
Leslie Kalin says one of the biggest lessons she learned from her father was resilience, from business setbacks to moving and aging to losing his wife, who died in 2006. “He never never complained,” she said. “He handled everything in life with such grace.”